“… maybe people will think my mural is a bit self-centred, I don’t know … but not really, it’s about how I discovered Orb.”
We’re in Orb’s music rehearsal room admiring a wall-length painted mural of Romka peeling back the paint to reveal exposed brickwork and the Orb mirrorball logo. It’s the product of her three month stay at Orb as an artist in residence and her first, and very impressive, attempt at Banksy-inspired street art.
Romka is a third year student at the Academy of Art in Łódź, Poland who found out about Orb via web searches for art classes in Yorkshire. She was looking for a creative environment to get some experience in visual art education. When she contacted Leon and found out about our creative mental health support it seemed a perfect fit; with a psychologist in her family and her affinity for helping people.
Over the summer, Romka taught art classes every Wednesday in our art studio, first as apprentice with Sharon, then later as teacher herself:
“I wasn’t sure if people would come. But people came to my first class because they didn’t want me to be on my own!”
Romka’s warm reception probably has a lot to do with her approach to teaching:
“I give people a topic, some ideas and demonstration, if they don’t like this they can do what they want. Most important is people feel relaxed and good about themselves. The art at the end is not so important. I encourage them to be open and to express themselves.”
And it’s an approach that’s gained her “friends more than pupils”. Like Rob said about our recording studio: a friendly, supportive and open-minded outlook goes a long way when you want to bring out the best in our community of members with mental health support needs.
Romka leaves in September, but her positive experiences like the art classes and taking photos at FEVA (which were printed in the Knaresborough Post) are enough to bring her back:
“I feel like part of a big family. Like Mark said: ‘Once you start to become a piece of the Orb, you never really stop.'”